<br /> Lee Letter: n776

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Richard Henry Lee
Recipient: George Washington

Dear Sir,

I had the honor to receive your obliging letter, of the 14th
instant,1 seven days after its date; and I
thank you Sir for its friendly contents and sensible communications.
Your ideas concerning the western country are wise and just. They will
certainly have great weight when that business shall be discussed in
Congress: and that will probably be the case soon after we know the
success of our commissioners at Cayahoga.

Much time hath been taken up in debate upon the permanent and temporary
residence of Congress, and finally it is determined that the former
shall be on the banks of the Delaware, not exceeding eight miles above
or below this place, and on either side of the river that may be fixt
upon by commissioners to be appointed for the purpose of superintending
the f¬úderal buildings. New York is to be the temporary residence, and
Congress stands now adjourned to meet in that City on the 11th of
January next – when I hope that we shall diligently put forward the
public business. Spain seems determined to possess the exclusive
navigation of the Mississippi, which, with the bickerings that appear
already on that quarter, will oblige Congress to send an able Minister
to Madrid. And one also to the Court of London, that we may, if
possible, negotiate commencing differences, before they have proceeded
too far. The western Posts are with-held, and an encroachment already
made on our north-eastern boundary. An ambiguity in the Treaty arising
from there being two rivers named St. Croix that empty into
Passamaquady Bay has encouraged the British to settle the country
between them – thus determining in their own favor the right to an
extensive and valuable country. The fact is, that the eastermost of
these rivers is the true St. Croix, the same name having been of late
date only, applied to the westermost of these waters. The very
unfriendly commercial principles entertained by the B. Ministry and the
disputes concerning debts and removed Negroes, are points of
consequence also; which together form a field for able and ample
negotiation.

The Marquis Fayette had embarked for Europe before the letter for him that
you enclosed came to my hands.2 I should be
glad to know your pleasure concerning it – whether I am to send it on to
France after him, or return it to you?

My respectful compliments attend your Lady, and wishing you and her the
compliments of the season,

I am, with very great esteem and regard,
dear Sir, your most obedient and very humble servant,

Richard Henry Lee

Notes:

Receiver’s copy, Washington Papers, Library of Congress.

1 See Washington, Papers (Abbot), Confederation Series, 2:181 – 83.

2 For Washington’s December 8 letter to the marquis de Lafayette, see ibid.,
pp. 175 – 76.